06 June 2012

A Little Bird Told Me On the Drive Home

My beautiful commute takes me past sheep farms, dairy farms, a llama farm, and through some state game lands. I'm very grateful for the quiet country roads that I traverse twice daily. It's a familiar path I've followed for over ten years. Other traffic is minimal--I may encounter a handful of cars along the way--and the driving is pleasant. Once I came across a roving herd of cows. Traffic was barely mooo-ving that day.
It's a twice-daily twenty-minute drive that I enjoy. Because it's so pleasant, I find I can use the driving time productively. Sometimes I practice mindfulness exercises: maybe I look for the color blue in all its hues or maybe I look for things that have changed, which helps me become attuned to the seasons. Other times, I use the time for problem solving. When I'm in the midst of figuring out how to construct the block-of-the-month quilt, I drive around for weeks considering different construction methods and how to write about them. And sometimes, my drive is full of flights of fancy where I let my creative imagination soar.

Last night, as I was driving home, I started thinking about a question that I have been working with for some time: how to incorporate both my painting and my stitching into coherent pieces. I'm enraptured by painting, there's no doubt about that, but I still want to use my stitching. It was through quilting that I found my creative path, so it's important for me to honor and incorporate my stitching background into my work. I'm been trying different ways to meld them both together, but haven't quite found the combination that makes my heart sing.

As I was driving, I began playing with different possibilities in my mind. It was a very fruitful and fast process. The best way I can describe it is that it felt like swiping from one picture to the next on my iPhone: one idea would appear, I would examine and ask questions of it, and then a modified idea would appear. I came home with a handful of potential ideas to try.

And so after a delicious dinner of grilled ribeye and asparagus followed by strawberries and cream (nothing beats seasonal, local eats), I went into my studio and started fooling around with fabric. I started pulling pale shades of aqua and green, which lead me to pale yellows and peaches. I placed them on a piece of felt in a colorwash design and stitched them down using an irregular grid. I grabbed some unpainted paper cloth and cut out a bird and the letters S-O-A-R. I marked them with pencil and then used light washes of acrylic ink to add color. Then I stitched them down. I stretched the piece around an old canvas (learning how to use and load a staple gun in the process) and called it finished.
Stretching the piece around canvas gives it a presence that I like. It has more structure than a flat, floppy quilted wallhanging. It also makes a deeper connection with painting. I need to perfect my folded corners, but that will come.

The other idea I want to try--and I don't think this is the right piece for it--is brushing gloss medium onto the piece after it is stretched. I've played a little with gloss medium on quilted patchwork before and I really like how it confounds expectations: it looks like fabric but is shiny.
As I'm playing with mixing media I'm discovering new perspectives on stitching, painting, and art. It will be interesting to see where future commutes take me.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You do have A BEAUTIFUL ride to and from the shop. My only wish is that I could see the world through your eyes. You also paint a beautiful picture through your words. I had seen this picture on facebook (I believe) and we at home had a discussion on the medium. Thanks for explaining.

Love, MOM